Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surviving the Winter

It is cold here! For those who have not been following the saga let me remind you that our primary source of heat comes from two wood pellet stove inserts. We have four furnaces from the days when this place was four apartments but none are hooked up because they all vented out of chimneys. They are all 80% efficiency furnaces. The main part of the house has no attic insulation either. We have been struggling with getting the temperature on the first floor above 60 degrees and on the second floor it hovers around 62 degrees. We have had to resort to a few different strategies. One is the traditional method

This raises the temperature as long as there is wood inside the house to fuel the fire. Unfortunately, at night when the fire goes out, so does all the warm air. Right out the chimney. We wake up to 56 degrees on the first floor! We have curtains up between some less used rooms and the main hallway to keep the warm air contained. That hallway is very cold!

We bought a "Heater Fan" for Elizabeth's room.

This is a Reiker brand fan and cost us $269. It was installed by yours truly the day that it arrived. It maintains the temperature in her room between 63 and 65 degrees. It is still not enough so I went out and bought this

50 bags of blow in insulation. I get to borrow the machine for free except that you get it for 24 hours with a 20 bag purchase. I negotiated 2 days since I really didn't have to buy all 50 bags at once. I have to go back to pick up the machine when I have some time because it took 4 hours to make two trips to the big box retailer and haul those 50 bags up three flights of stairs to the third floor!

The plan is to spend New Years Day blowing this stuff into the floor of the "attic." Fortunately we have many floorboards already ripped up so this should be a relatively easy task. When done it should give me an R-value of around 26 between the second and third floors. That will keep some of the heat in and reduce our pellet use - I hope. We bought 4 tons of pellets in September. We have used 3 1/2 tons almost. I have one ton still from last year. Looks like we need to buy another 4 tons. It makes me wonder how they heated this house around 1890. I know it had a coal furnace but one would have to shovel coal in it constantly throughout the day. I have to fill the pellet stoves first thing in the morning and last thing at night or they will run out of pellets causing the temperature to drop.

So now I am running around doing some last minute rewiring of the bathroom before the insulation goes in because it will be much harder to do it after Friday. Stupid stuff like moving a light switch so that it isn't behind the door when it opens. Of course, when I installed the switch the first time we didn't have a door or a toilet for that matter! So now I have to come up with something to hook the original switch to. I'm thinking wall lights but that means more wiring!